At a glance
Instead of a centralized data center, edge computing has decentralized structures that exist at the edge of a network - data from sensors and (mobile) devices are thus processed immediately on site and forwarded to the relevant locations, e.g. to devices from the Internet of Things.
Edge vs. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is a technology that allows resources such as storage or computing power, as well as applications and services, to be delivered over the Internet. Any user can access these resources without having to purchase the necessary hardware and software. In many ways, edge computing is the opposite. For example, data is processed directly where it originates, without having to take the detour via a data center or third-party servers located in the cloud. For the Internet of Things, both technologies have their right to exist. The strengths of cloud computing lie, for example, in the flexible provision of services and resources to a wide audience, while edge computing has its strengths in the fast, secure processing of data.
Advantages of Edge Computing
The technology offers advantages especially in industrial scenarios, e.g:
- Real-time data processing
- Data processing at the place of origin
- Reduction of data exchange via the Internet
- Data processing even without internet connection
- increased data security
- decentralized structures
- faster response times for critical applications
There are many situations in industry and business where the technology is actively used because of its advantages, e.g. when time-critical applications are involved or when the resulting flood of data has to be pre-processed.
The technology is less suitable in many scenarios where there are regularly huge amounts of data to manage - at least when it is not combined with other solutions. After all, Big Data lives from the efficient preparation, storage and analysis of continuously occurring data volumes. In other words, it would be necessary, for example, to constantly adapt the decentralized structures to the storage requirements. Instead, it makes sense to prepare the accruing data in real time in the Edge and then forward it to a data center for storage and further processing.
The approach is also suitable for networking devices and machines from the Industrial Internet of Things. The decentralized structure and the processing and forwarding of data in real time result in fast and efficient communication that is not dependent on external services from the cloud. For precisely coordinated production chains, processing directly on site in the Edge can mean, for example, higher productivity and optimized timing for time-critical processes.
Predictive maintenance is an important concept in the Smart Factory: The devices and machines report as soon as they need maintenance, thus replacing the fixed maintenance schedule. For this to work, the networked systems collect a large number of sensor data and measured values, which are then evaluated directly in the edge. In this way, the responsible employee can be informed as quickly as possible about upcoming maintenance.